Keep a close eye on hygiene and cleanliness to remain step ahead of infectious diseases
EARLY flocks have plenty of this year's lambs on the ground, so now is the time to run through our disease control and prevention programmes.
Indoor lambing means we must keep a very close eye on hygiene and cleanliness in the lambing area. A footbath at every entry and exit point that is topped up and refreshed at regular intervals is a must.
The bedding area must be dry, deep and fresh to give the new arrivals a good laying area for their first night or two.
It is here and in subsequent pens that we see all the disease problems building up. Remember that if you cannot kneel on the bedding without getting a wet mark on your knees, then the lamb cannot lie safely either.
Some tips in relation to assisting a ewe having difficulty lambing are appropriate at this point. Clean, fresh warm water is a essential when assisting a lambing ewe. To explore the birth canal, we must wash our hands with soap and warm water and then rinse and dry them properly. A pair of disposable plastic or latex gloves should then be worn with plenty of purpose-made lubrication applied to the hand before reaching in to assist the lambing.
For quick and simple assistance during lambing, a soaped-up hand can be used. Find the back leg and quickly bring it forward for the very easy cases of assistance.
In more technical cases, veterinary help should be called earlier rather than later in the day. If, however, the shepherd feels capable of doing a little more than a quick handle of the ewe, then copious amounts of correct lubrication must be used. Hand-washing soap or washing-up liquid will very quickly irritate the birth canal and cause the area to swell and dry out.
This leads to very painful and life-threatening vulval and uterine infections in the ewe, and can lead to serious physical damage to the canal or womb itself.